Most people have heard of dolphins and whales using echolocation, which is like having an internal sonar system that allows them to locate other fish by measuring how long it takes an echo to bounce back. But now scientists have recently discovered that seals have an even cooler trick up their, er, fins, and it's absolutely amazing.
Seals are able to detect fish up to 328 feet away using only their whiskers, and scientists are trying to figure out just how they do it. Watch the video below for the scoop!
One theory is that seals can feel the deflection of another object in the water because their whiskers are connected to nerves in their cheeks, and the shape of the whisker is very important. Not only can they detect an object upstream, but they can also determine its size using only their whiskers. To test this theory out, scientists put a blindfold and headphones on a seal during an experiment and dropped a motor-operated fin into the water. Sure enough, the seal swam straight for the motorized fin and was able to sense and indicate the direction in which the fin travelled -- and up to 35 seconds after the movement had stopped moving! Quite impressive if you ask us!
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The wavy shape of their whiskers allow seals to move smoothly through the water. The most amazing part is that seals seem to be able to differentiate among different fin shapes, which could mean that they can discriminate between different types of fish.
Not only do seals have awesome whiskers, but they're also completely adorable!
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We'd like to hang out with one seal pup, please. Or twenty! If you'd like to learn more about these amazing creatures, you can check out The Marine Mammal Center's Facebook page. You can also help prevent the poor seals from being hunted and relocated by checking out the non-profit harpseals.org.